Thurl 'Tony the Tiger' Ravenscroft Dies at 91

Since 1952, Kellogg's Tony the Tiger has had only one voice — that of Thurl Ravenscroft. He died over the weekend at the age of 91. Ravenscroft also did dozens of other characters on TV, radio, records, movies and theme parks.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

When you hear the name Thurl Ravenscroft, probably nothing specific comes to mind.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

So let's try listening to his voice.

(Soundbite of advertisement)

Mr. THURL RAVENSCROFT: (As Tony the Tiger) They're great!

NORRIS: Since 1952, Kellogg's Tony the Tiger has had only one voice, that of Thurl Ravenscroft. Today we learned he died over the weekend at the age of 91.

BLOCK: Ravenscroft also did dozens of other characters for TV, radio, records, movies and theme parks.

NORRIS: He once told a newspaper reporter that the tag line...

(Soundbite of advertisement)

Mr. RAVENSCROFT: (As Tony the Tiger) They're great!

NORRIS: ...was his invention. The ad designers showed him a picture, and he invented Tony's signature phrase.

(Soundbite of advertisement)

Mr. RAVENSCROFT: (As Tony the Tiger) Frosted Flakes have the taste adults have grown to love. They're great!

Whenever anyone finds out that I'm Tony, `Oh, do it! Do it!' What they mean is they want me to say, `Put a tiger on your team with Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes. They're great!' That's what everybody wants to hear (laughs).

NORRIS: We found that clip today on the Web site called All Things Thurl. Thurl Ravenscroft enjoyed a long career that started when he moved to California from his native Nebraska during the early 1930s. He had planned to go to art school, but soon he got sidetracked into show business.

BLOCK: As part of various quartets and choruses, Thurl Ravenscroft leant his singing voice to many popular animated features. One of his most recognizable performances was in the perennial CBS television version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."

(Soundbite of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas")

Mr. RAVENSCROFT: (Singing) You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch. You really are a heel. You're as cuddly as a cactus, you're as charming as an eel. Mr. Grinch, you're a bad banana with a greasy, black peel.

NORRIS: Ravenscroft also did voices or sang in ensembles for the animated films "Cinderella," "The Jungle Book," "Mary Poppins," "Alice In Wonderland," "Lady and the Tramp" and many others.

BLOCK: Voice artist and singer Thurl Ravenscroft died Sunday of prostate cancer. He was 91 years old.

(Credits)

NORRIS: I'm Michele Norris.

BLOCK: And I'm Melissa Block. You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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